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Sinking your teeth into the fluoride issue

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Column by Jim Flynn

Three score and six years ago the Public Health Service brought forth upon this nation a dental discovery dedicated to the proposition that all teeth should be treated equally.
Medical investigators had observed there was less tooth decay where water contained natural deposits of fluoride. The announced purpose of a national campaign to fluoridate drinking water was to make healthy teeth available to every citizen, especially young people.
The safety, effectiveness, and legality of adding fluoride to public water supplies gave birth to a passel of unlicensed medical experts who suggested such dosing might generate terrible outbreaks of glandular disorders, kidney failures, defective immune systems, cancers, allergies, bone deterioration, and stomach distresses, including bloat. After AIDS was discovered, it was added to the list. A few paranoid hysterics suggested fluoridation of water was a communist conspiracy.
Ignoring the naysayers and hysterics, in 1945 Grand Rapids, Michigan fluoridated its water and ignited a conflict which persisted for years and spawned a brigade of fluoride opponents.
The American Dental Association says fluoride has proven to be the most effective method of preventing tooth decay.
Until lately we assumed the fluoride controversy had long since gone to rest and that the accompanying hysterias had been quieted by availability of tranquility medications.
One recent morning, after we had scrubbed our upper and lower bridges and had swished with a fluoride rinse, we browsed the daily paper and discovered the Pinellas County commissioners had voted 4 to 3 to unflouridate their drinking water.
Around 65 percent of Americans drink fluoridated water – many unknowingly. Their blissful consumption has now been disrupted by Pinellas County, and may have re-ignited a national controversy.
The Pinellas County vote isn’t all the fluoride news. In a follow-up article Associated Press reported the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service had changed their recommended level of fluoride in pubic water supplies, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has undertaken a review of the maximum milligrams per liter. The nanny state is on full alert.
An opposition is also active. We were surprised to learn that a quiet but persistent anti-flouride movement exists under the banner “Flouride Action Network.”
In cases like this we’re inclined to look to our founders for guidance. George Washington would say: “If you had to spend a winter at Valley Forge eating nuts and half-cooked squirrels, you would vote for anything that might spare the next generation the pain and humiliation of uppers and lowers made of hippopotamus ivory on gold plates with springs.” Because of his prejudiced view on this issue, we have to ignore George’s opinion.
The other founders – Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe - would say: “Unless there’s something harmful in the water provided by Mother Nature, government has no authority to alter the liquid on which we depend for our survival and in which we bathe occasionally. Blessed are the founders for their constitutional wisdom.